Employed for life at London's most frequented venue, Automated Sanitation United Specifically Assigned Undesirable Tasks is the least beautiful piece of machinery around.
Dreams of fame and appreciation sprout from this stumpy cleaning machine's hard-drive as she witnesses Daedalus's Ro-Beauts night after night.
Times are changing, on stage and in the streets. Unrest is coming. And Automated Sanitation United Specifically Assigned Undesirable Tasks is on the frontline.
Antonio Daedalus eyed his newest assistant with minimum interest, the realisation already growing steady in his mind that this one was just another disastrous affair waiting to happen. Her prim and proper hairstyle and her conservative grey skirts and blouse said all that there was to say. Another small-minded agent with a business incentive and no vision for a future that was in any way whimsical or fun.
He crossed his legs, curly red shoe resting on the back of the theatre seating in front of him, feeling the girl's eyes train in its direction. He stroked the soft tuft of beard on his chin and expected the lecture in 3, 2 -
"I beg your pardon most graciously, sir," she implored him in a meek voice, her fingers clutching the electronic tablet in her lap. "But you should really be more aware of the theatre staff who are milling about. They mightn't take too kindly to you desecrating their furnishings. And furthermore -"
Daedalus cocked his spectacled eyes at his assistant in mild surprise; they did not usually speak so many words at a time. In fact, he often considered the possibility that they'd been trained systematically to rattle off the phrases "Yes, sir", "No, sir", "Stop, sir", and "Let me make one small change". This girl didn't appear to have a personality, creativity, or any sense of individualism, but she seemed to have the rarest of things at all - a brain.
"And furthermore," she said again, recovering from his peculiar gaze, "I don't believe that you are going about this in the best way possible."
"I'm sorry, uh...?"
"Ms. Win-der-Blatt, if you have any complaints or comments, drop me a line and I'll see to them in 5-6 working days. In the meantime, you sit there and look pretty." Daedalus grimaced as he examined the girl's extraordinarily plain appearance once again. "On second thoughts, just.... sit there."
Win-der-Blatt nodded, her face expressionless, and averted her eyes calmly to where two eager school-aged boys were hoisting open the thick red curtains that fell across the expansive, blacked-out stage. Daedalus wondered idly why there was still a need for human children to do manual labour in this day and age. Humans were only needed for intellectual and creative work. Everyday, menial dribble could be carried out much more cheaply and efficiently by machines. A machine could have even done his assistant's job, for pity's sake, only for the Board of Homogenous Employment had denied his request and called him a fetishist and a bigot.
He reckoned he wasn't welcome to their service anymore. That feeling had crept in soon after he had shoved his middle finger in the air and called them shit-headed faggots. It had been fairly well set in his mind the minute he'd been swept out of the building by two huge men in armoured suits and tossed onto his arse.
He eyed Win-der-Blatt out the corner of his eye, and observed as she absently inserted a fingertip into her left nostril and scratched around in there, her eyes never straying from the empty stage. Huh. Maybe he did have a mindless drone for an assistant after all.
At that moment, their was the unmistakable shuffling and giggling sounds that could only have been associated with two things; a dozen teenaged girls with cotton-candy star-studded dreams - or a dozen automatons designed and programmed to act like a dozen teenaged girls with cotton-candy star-studded dreams.
Daedalus rose to his feet as the stage began to fill up with glistening silver and gold and bronze bodies, all clad in brightly coloured dresses that clung to perfectly replicated female curves and bumps. He clapped his hands twice above his head for attention and silence.
"Ladies!" he spoke. "Please form an orderly queue, and the auditions shall commence. We are looking for two types of talent this afternoon. Some of you will, unfortunately, be sent back to your respective homes, to live out your lives as cleaning bots, or whatever. Some will be selected for the upcoming ballet show, written and directed by my close personal friend Frieda Giordani. And the rest of you will find full-time employment here, as waiting staff on weeknights, and as the stars of the show on Burlesque weekends."
The robot girls giggled and held hands excitedly, smiles pulling back to show clean white teeth, almost just as lifelike as a human's.
"Can the pretty little thing on my extreme left please step to centre stage, please?" Daedalus requested as he took his seat once more, crossing his legs again. "Oh, and ladies - welcome to the House of Daedalus."